Another angry — and excellent — New York story from director Sidney Lumet, Serpico tells the true-life tale of Frank Serpico (Al Pacino), an undercover cop who went to great lengths to expose the corruption of the New York City Police Department, despite the intimidation and threats he endured from his fellow officers. A rousing and ultimately old-fashioned story of the little guy taking on the seemingly invincible and yet deeply flawed “system,” Serpico features one of Pacino’s best-ever performances as a tough yet extremely vulnerable man driven to extremes by a seething and almost supernatural desire to “do some good,” a cop who truly believes in — and lives by — the “to serve and protect” mantra of his chosen vocation. Lumet, who replaced director John G. Avildsen (who would go on to do the even more inspiring Rocky) at the last minute, is at his fist-shaking, rabble-rousing best here, with almost every other scene worthy of cheers and exclamations of “Yes!”; he and Pacino would reunite a couple of years later for the equally stirring Dog Day Afternoon, another true-life account of a troubled New Yorker. Pacino won his first-ever Golden Globe for his performance; the film was also Oscar-nominated for Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.
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